Today in History:

 
CivilWar.com is divided into categories. Each category subdivides into sub-categories to bring the information to you with a minimal number of clicks and browsing, in a logical, concise manner.
The Overview is designed to present a quick look at the war in general. The causes of the war, a summary of the war, a look at the life of a soldier and the timeline of events are the primary content here. More in depth information may be found in the other categories.



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Nearly 150 years have passed since the largest armed conflict on American soil began.  Yet the reasons for what began as political disputes errupting in what eventually became a "Total War" are still hotly debated.

Partisans from each side of the conflict, then as now, have provided reasons for the Civil War which are contradictory. 

This section does not attempt to resolve the differences.  What you will find here are the reasons given by both sides.   An understanding of the Civil War, in our opinion, is obtained through understanding the societal influences of patriotism, human rights, economics, religion and politics in America in the early to mid 1800's.  The primal emotions leading to war were therefore rooted in the differences of opinion and belief between North and South with respect to those influences.

The root causes of the Civil War can be broken down into States Rights, Slavery, Political and Economic considerations.  Slavery, while listed as  a separate cause, had significant influence on the other three. An understanding of the above influences of the time will reveal, however, that slavery, while factoring into the various causes in different degrees, should not be considered the sole cause of the Civil War.


There were many changes to the armament and science of war warfare that occurred during the American Civil War. In this section you will find information about then new weapons, such as Iron Clad ships, the Gatling Gun, Observation Balloons, repeating rifles, and the submarine. You will also find information about the older weapons, or weaponry modified during the war, such as the Minié Ball

content provided by the national park service www.nps.gov
author: John Heiser - Gettysburg National Military Park - May 1, 1998

The life of a soldier in the 1860's was difficult and for the thousands of young Americans who left home to fight for their cause, it was an experience none of them would ever forget. Military service meant many months away from home and loved ones, long hours of drill, often inadequate food or shelter, disease, and many days spent marching on hot, dusty roads or in a driving rainstorm burdened with everything a man needed to be a soldier as well as baggage enough to make his life as comfortable as possible. There were long stretches of boredom in camp interspersed with moments of sheer terror experienced on the battlefield. For these civilians turned soldiers, it was very difficult to get used to the rigors and demands of army life.

Use the links below to explore the life of soldiers in the American Civil War.

The documents linked provide an overview of Slavery in the United States prior to the Civil War.  This is an overview of documents on the subject.  For more detail on this topic, explore the section on Slavery from the Main Menu, as well as the Resources.

Who is your father? Your mother?  Your Grandfather?  Your Grandmother? Their parents?  What were they like?  What did they do?  What did they love? What did they fear?  What did they believe in?

In most families, the stories of previous generations, their faith, their exploits, accomplishments, trials and triumphs are passed down orally and eventually lost to the annals of time.  Through the personal accounts of various soldiers who wrote loved ones, kept journals, or published their memories in book form we are able to discern what life was like for the people living through the Civil War.  Enjoy the collection here.

If you have something from your family you would be willing to share with others through this site, please contact us.  We would love to digitize anything from memorabilia to written documents to provide it in the site as a part of Americana for others to use and enjoy.  There is no charge for us to do this and you keep the original items.  Of course, if you are looking to profit through the sale of memorabilia or documents, we would be glad to assist with that as well.


The most compelling aspect of the Civil War are the battles that were fought.  Brief and exceptionally violent, especially by today's standards, the battles of the American Civil War stand out in our history for the bravery of the men involved and the number of casualties inflicted.

It is difficult to understand how men could march towards each other, often facing certain death at the hands of their foe. 

The Civil War was no longer a battle of the swift, or the fittest.  Advances in technology had ushered an age of modern and efficient warfare which all but eliminated the chivalry of ages past.  The accounts of the battles here are brief, providing information on the forces involved and the outcome. 

The Official Record of the War of the Rebellion contains the reports of the soldiers involved.  A reading of the several reports from each battle provide insight into what each commander witnessed and his own perspective on the battle.  Taken together, these reports provide the reader with an overview of what transpired.  Understanding that the author often wished to praise his men, or cover his own faults, it is still the best picture of events we have.

The tools for research: books, recorded histories, the Official Record, photographs, letters, diaries, links, genealogical information, statistics and government records. This is the section for more in-depth study of the details of the war.
 
While the act of seceeding from the Union was considered by the federal government one of sedition, the Confederacy based their act on many of the principles on which the United States had been founded. 

The documents associated with the government of the Confederate States of America provide insight to not only the reasons for secession, but insight to some of the founding principles of the United States government.

In many cases, the reason for secession was based on these principles with respect to the issue of slavery.  This combination contributed greatly to the very strong feelings on both sides regarding secession.

The regular army was small at the outset of the Civil War.  As the war lengthened in time and losses, the governments of both sides relied heavily upon the states themselves to provide men through militias as a means of keeping costs down at the federal level.  This method had several benefits, such as the granting of commissions as a political favor, as well as encouraging natural leaders to come forward through raising their own regiments, etc. After the war, the bonds created among units were strong and local.  As a result, much of the history of the war was recorded by societies or groups that formed by way of veteran's organizations.  These groups often collected the anectdotes and histories of the militia and recorded them for posterity's sake.  This section is devoted to providing as many Regimental Histories as we can gather as a supplement to the official documentation of the war.  This section should not be confused with Fox's Regimental History.

Faith was an important aspect of society during the mid-19th century.  While the vast majority of Americans at the time considered themselves Christian, there were differing beliefs within the various Christian denominations and regions of the country; the issue of slavery and the right to enslave another person ranking very  high among the differences.  During the period leading up to the Civil War sermons were frequently printed and distributed in much the same way a periodical such a newspaper or magazine.  Indeed, it was not unusual for printed sermons to have a larger distribution and readership than regional newspapers and often were included in the newspapers of the day.  In this section are several sermons that were instrumental in shaping the reactions to events and views on slavery. 

 

There were sermons given in the North which were rebutted in the South with a counter sermon.  The early 1800's in the West was a period marked by new thought and interpetation of scripture, some of which lead to Unitarianism and Humanism.  With much of the abolition movement in the North rooted in Unitarian congregations, in the South the message was often rejected because of the messenger.  Note:  the term "unitarian" was used to indicate a non-triun God, essentially rejecting the Deity of Christ as one with the Father and the Holy Spirit.

Harper's Weekly is an American periodical that was published by Fletcher Harper and his Brothers James, John and Wesley from 1857 until 1916.  The publication was the most popular weekly during the period of the Civil War and is known for its lithographs, illustrations and descriptions of events during the period. As a historical reference the material in the weekly provides the perspective most American's had of the war as it transpired.  The record in Harper's Weekly often differs with the Official Record, which can be expected with any civilian coverage of a military operation. It remains, however, one of the more impactful and important references of soldier life during the war.

Benson John Lossing, born February 12, 1813 died June 3, 1891, was an American historian and journalist who's lifespan encompassed the Civil War and who's extensive works provided one of the more popular histories of the Civil War from the 19th century.  He was a frequent contributor to Harper's New Monthly Magazine.  His specialty was the American Revolution, a topic he must have thoroughly enjoyed having ammassed a significant library of reference documents and material covering the subject.  His background and ability to collect and compile information in a logical, compelling and captivating manner translated well for the posterity of the record of the Civil War.

Below are links to the various works by Lossing covering the period of the Civil War.

Benson J. Lossing wrote an extensive history of the United States, from discovery through 1867.  In this section we provide the chapters covering President Buchanan's administration, Lincoln's administration and the chapters on the Civil War.

Semi-Centennial
Memorial

The Photographic History

of The Civil War

In Ten Volumes

 

Francis Trevelyan Miller - Editor in Chief

 

Robert S. Lanier

Managing Editor

 

Thousands of Scenes Photogrpahed

1861-65, with Text by many

Special Authorities

 

New York

The Review of Reviews Co.

1911

 

Produced for the 50th anniversary of the Civil War this work by the Review of Reviews Co. in 1911, edited by Francis Trevelyan Miller, is an epic ten volume set of photogrpahic record, broken down into various categories of geography, time periods, campaigns and military arms, among others.  It was undoubtedbly a work designed for profit, yet also desinged to tell the story of the war to honor those who fought on both sides and to unite the two. President William Howard Taft was one of the principal listed contributors.

 

The work is dedicated thusly -

Dedicated

FIFTY YEARS AFTER
FORT SUMTER
TO THE MEN IN BLUE AND GRAY
WHOSE VALOR AND DEVOTION
HAVE BECOME THE
PRICELSS HERITAGE
OF A UNITED
NATION

 

And from the introduction:

"THE PHOTOGRAPHIC HISTORY OF THE CIVIL WAR comes on this anniversary to witness a people's valor; to testify in photograph to the true stroy of how a devoted people whose fathers had stood shoulder to shoulder for the ideal of liverty in the American Revolution, who had issued to the world the declaration that all men are created politcially free and equal, who had formulated the Constitution that dethroned mediaeval monarchy and founded a new republic to bring new hope to the races of the earth---parted at the dividing line of a great economic problem and stood arrayed against each other in the greates fraticidal tragedy that the world has ever witnessed, only to be reunited and to stand, fifty years later, hand in hand for the betterment of mankind, pledging themselves to universal peace and brotherhood."

 
Although the American Civil War was fought nearly 150 years ago it still generates headlines. This section is designed to bring you up to date on what is happening with battlefield preservation efforts, reenactments, traveling exhibits and more. In fact, what is newsworthy and relating to the Civil War which finds it’s way into print or online will likely appear here.
 
Follow the links to the article. We attempt to summarize the information for you here, but the source is always the best location for the complete story.
 
 
People are the reason for the war and behind the reason for which it was fought. There were Heroes and Villains on both sides, politicians, civilians and military alike. It is the human factor which makes history so compelling. 
 
Often, the “why” answer is only discovered through learning the personalities of the players involved. Through this section you will find the background and bibliographies of the Generals, the Politicians, the Women and others who shaped the conflict and determined the outcome.

Further study is recommended through the source documents located in the Reference Section. And if you have a relative who fought, or information on a participant who’s story you would like to share through this site, let us know.



There were many changes to the armament and science of war warfare that occurred during the American Civil War. In this section you will find information about then new weapons, such as Iron Clad ships, the Gatling Gun, Observation Balloons, repeating rifles, and the submarine. You will also find information about the older weapons, or weaponry modified during the war, such as the Minié Ball.


Take a day, weekend or weeklong trip to the sites where American History was born. Research family genealogy, teach your children or study military doctrine. All of the above are possibilities through the Travel section of CivilWar.com.
 
Our goal is to bring to you possible itineraries of exploration and fun. Look for information about the various battlefield parks, monuments, cemeteries, forts and events throughout this section.
 
If there is something you would like to see, or an itinerary you would recommend to others let us know and we will include it here.


Soldiers loved to sing and there were many tunes popular in both armies. A variety of instruments were available to musically minded soldiers including guitars, banjos, flutes, and harmonicas. More industrious soldiers fashioned string instruments such as fiddles out of wooden cigar boxes. Regimental or brigade bands often played during the evening hours and there were instances of army bands being heard to play favorite tunes for the opposition when the armies were separated by a river or siege line. Some of the more popular tunes for southerners were "Lorena", "Maryland My Maryland", and "The Bonnie Blue Flag". Union soldiers had "The Battle Cry Of Freedom", "Battle Hymn of the Republic", and "Tenting on the Old Campground" as favorites. The men of both sides also enjoyed minstrel tunes such as "My Old Kentucky Home", "The Arkansas Traveler", and "Dixie".


No, this section is not about the teachers of the 1800’s, although that could prove interesting. Rather, this section is a resource for modern teachers of Social Studies, History, Economics, Language Arts, Geography, Civics, Art and Music and other disciplines to which the American Civil War provides insight.
 
We are making every effort to bring to you materials which are in compliance with the National Standards, presented with accuracy and truth. As with all sections of the site we welcome feedback. Let us know what will assist you in teaching from this period of American History.
 
Likewise, if you have written a lesson plan which you would like to share with others, let us know and we will include it in the site.

 

There are standards of reference when using an online resource in research papers.   This category provides information on how to use CivilWar.com as a reference for papers using information found in this web site.

 


Letters were an important aspect of the Civil War.  They bring us a history that is personal, sometimes even private, yet always revealing.

We are able to learn much about the feelings of a person heading into battle, their feelings for a loved one; thoughts on mortality and God.  Often, intents and purposes of government and tactics are revealed through letters that change the "official" view presented in the history books.

We hope this section will provide a compelling resource as it grows.   Please enjoy the letters as much as we have, and if you have a letter or a document concerning the period you would like to share with others through CivilWar.com, let us know.


Probably the single most studied aspect of the Civil War is that “Peculiar Institution”, Slavery. Slavery was not the sole cause of the Civil War. However, slavery underpinned the major reasons for the war, as well as played a significant role in the way the war was prosecuted and the outcome of the war.
 
This section strives to present the issues of slavery, the emotions and religion surrounding it and the quest for freedom as they relate to the Civil War and America.
 
Within this section will be found links to resources, sites to visit, as well as descriptive articles related to the topic.  Be sure and check out the section on Abolition and Slavery found under the Overview->Causes->Slavery section as well.

 

And Experiment In Freedom - Mitchelville was a town in South Carolina near present day Hilton Head where slaves were freed by military order prior to the Emancipation Proclamation.

The Chicora Foundation has been kind enough to allow CivilWar.com to place information about their archealogical studies and history of Mitchelville in the site.  For further information read the short history of the site herein and visit Chicora.org.

Copyright 1995 by Chicora Foundation, Inc.  All rights reserved.  No part of this publication as presented within CivilWar.com or in print form may be reproduced or transcribed in any form without permission of Chicora Foundation, Inc. except for brief quotations used in reviews.

With emancipation occuring during the war the inevitable issue of whether slaves or freed slaves would be given arms and used as soldiers was addressed.  This category attempts to provide information about the way in which African Americans were used by the Union and the Confederacy, as well as reveal the way in which they were treated by both armies.

Undoubtedly African Americans played a significant role in the Civil War.  Indeed, the casualty figures reveal a disproportionate suffering in comparison to other groups of soldiers.  Many would succumb to disease as a result of unsanitary camp conditions before wars end.

An often overlooked fact is that prominent figures associated with the Emancipation, at the time of the Civil War, were either slaveholders themselves or directly related to slaveholders.

Without passing judgement, this section attempts to provide information about the era that many may find suprising.


Nearly 150 years have passed since the largest armed conflict on American soil began.  Yet the reasons for what began as political disputes errupting in what eventually became a "Total War" are still hotly debated.

Partisans from each side of the conflict, then as now, have provided reasons for the Civil War which are contradictory. 

This section does not attempt to resolve the differences.  What you will find here are the reasons given by both sides.   An understanding of the Civil War, in our opinion, is obtained through understanding the societal influences of patriotism, human rights, economics and politics in America in the early to mid 1800's.  The primal emotions leading to war were therefore rooted in the differences of opinion and belief between North and South with respect to those influences.

The root causes of the Civil War can be broken down into States Rights, Slavery, Political and Economic considerations.  Slavery, while listed as  a separate cause, had significant influence on the other three. An understanding of the above influences of the time will reveal, however, that slavery should not be considered the sole cause of the Civil War.


Below are a pair of documents which provide a quick look at the Civil War and the major events as they unfolded over the period of 1861-1865.  This provides a snapshot of this complex war.

PREFACE.

This compilation will be the first general publication of the military records of the war, and will embrace all official documents that can be obtained by the compiler, and that appear to be of any historical value.

The publication will present the records in the following order of arrangement:

The 1st Series will embrace the formal reports, both Union and Confederate, of the first seizures of United States property in the Southern States, and of all military operations in the field, with the correspondence, orders, and returns relating specially thereto, and, as proposed, is to be accompanied by an Atlas.

In this series the reports will be arranged according to the campaigns and several theaters of operations (in the chronological order of the events), and the Union reports of any event will, as a rule, be immediately followed by the Confederate accounts. The correspondence, &c., not embraced in the "reports" proper will follow (first Union and next Confederate) in chronological order.

The 2nd Series will contain the correspondence, orders, reports, and returns, Union and Confederate, relating to prisoners of war, and (so far as the military authorities were concerned) to State or political prisoners.

The 3rd Series will contain the correspondence, orders, reports, and returns of the Union authorities (embracing their correspondence with the Confederate officials) not relating specially to the subjects of the first and second series. It will set forth the annual and special reports of the Secretary of War, of the General-in-Chief, and of the chiefs of the several staff corps and departments; the calls for troops, and the correspondence between the national and the several State authorities.

The 4th Series will exhibit the correspondence, orders, reports, and returns of the Confederate authorities, similar to that indicated for the Union officials, as of the third series, but excluding the correspondence between the Union and Confederate authorities given in that series.